It is little secret that we are living in a day and age of rapid technological advances. Gone are the day of chalkboards in classrooms and dry erase boards are slowly finding their way into classroom extinction.
While Oakdale may not have the largest number in the way of student body numbers compared to other Valley school districts, it does possess a district office staff actively projecting and looking to the future.
“It is the direction we have to go,” stated OJUSD Assistant Superintendent Kristi Rapinchuk of the Technology Plan Update.
The 2014-2015 school year was the beginning of the Chromebook Cart roll out to each of Oakdale’s six schools sites.
“We started with 30,” Rapinchuk said, “and then we had some extra Microsoft vouchers that allowed us to purchase a few more.”
Chromebook Carts house 35 Chromebooks at an estimated cost of $15,000 per cart. The Chromebooks are currently for use strictly in the classroom with teacher instruction, guidance and pairing.
The Chromebooks are currently system wide for sixth grade students, with the goal to be system wide for fifth graders, as well as seventh through 12th grade English in the 2015-16 school year.
“The hope is that we will be able to go system wide in third and fourth in the third year,” Rapinchuk stated.
“Information is changing so rapidly that to adapt a hardback textbook in science, (it) actually changes before it’s adopted,” she continued. “Everyone is seeing the writing on the wall, particularly with science.”
Keeping that in mind, Rapinchuk and her team (with District support) are looking beyond the in-classroom use which has proved successful in its introductory year. They are also looking to other districts as examples for what works and what does not.
Rapinchuk shared the current mindset with the board in a past meeting, indicating that simply assigning a student a table or Chromebook for home use and stating this is ‘technology access’ is not so simple.
“In order to address 21st century learning environment expectations, providing access to a device does not adequately provide ‘technology access’ enabling them to be college and career ready,” she stated.
Rapinchuk believes the focus must remain based on fully equipping the teachers with the proper tools and training so that they may partner and guide the students on campus.
“I strongly stand behind our model, which is assigning carts to teachers not assigning to students,” she said. “What’s benefitting us is our systemic training. The workshops have truly been valuable.
“I haven’t had a single teacher go through day one of training and say ‘I don’t want this cart.’ They leave the training making the cart their own and later sharing ideas.”
Rapinchuk recognizes the growing need for a future plan to make the devices assignable to students for at-home use. She and her team, however, are also savvy to what the home needs/ability of the device will be when off campus. Internet accessibility, remote Wi-Fi, personal accountability and the like are just a few of the kinks being addressed by her team as they work through future plans.
“We know that if we adopt a digital or digitally adapted curriculum we will have to give that out,” she said of remote accessibility.
“We are trying to poise our staff to make ourselves positioned to do this,” she summarized of the overall goal. “What we once spent in curriculum (i.e.: textbooks, etc.), may help us with technology adoption.”